December 31, 2013

My Six Best/Worst for 2013


Well my friends, we come to the end of an amazing year for me here. I have done so many blogs, especially at the start of the year. One thing I can promise for 2014 is that you will not see quite so much from me. But we can discuss that later.



I wanted to wrap the year up with a look back of some kind. But I did a mistake list a few months ago. And I sure haven't made that many since then. Well, I did somehow confuse STar Trek-Nemesis with Star Trek-First Contact. I also confused Mrs.Garret from The Facts of Life with Mrs.Johnson from Punky Brewster (the actress was Susie Garrett, so an honest mistake I guess). But still....



So instead I am going to look back at six articles I am especially proud of, and six articles that I think were a bit of a miss.




Let's start with the good stuff. These all pretty much have one thing in common, they started from a nothing idea and I never thought they would go anywhere. Instead they turned out great. My five favorite articles from the past year (in no particular order) :






#6.Top 12 SNL Recurring Characters/Sketches

There are a few articles like these this year including dumbest husbands, non-human characters, Favorite Characters, and best TV villains but I decided to pick this one as my favorite because this list was near impossible. How do you choose from all the characters SNL has had over the years? Not easily! But in the end I was satisfied with my choices and think this turned out well.

http://www.manic-expression.com/apps/blog/show/32746602-top-12-snl-recurring-characters-sketches

December 29, 2013

A Special Look at "Man of Steel"



I was real excited about a new Superman movie. Then The Man of Steel came out. I have never seen a movie so poliarizing! People either love it, or hate it! I heard enough about it to decide not to see it. Since then I have heard all the comments. I have seen all the reviews from Nostalgia Critic to Confused Matthew to Cinema Sins. And I am happy to say, I finally sat through the movie. So, do I agree with  the criticism or think this movie was great?


Well, let's say that it's not as bad as Superman Returns. But it has problems. And so today I wanted to take a look at them. What I wanted to do was to go over eight topics about the movie, and discuss whether or not the criticisms are valid. To help me with this I asked my good friend Les, who loved the movie, if he would share his thoughts.



As you might imagine, spoilers!!! Les, welcome to the blog my friend!


LES:  Hi richb.  Thanks for having me aboard for this discussion. 


RichB:My Pleasure! Let's drive right in :

1.Krypton/Jor El
RichB:So let's talk about the opening. Well, chronologically anyway. More on that in a bit. Anyway, as usual we get a different take on Krypton and Jor-El. This is the one aspect of Superman's history that is always changing. Seems every version, comic, TV, or movie, has their own take. And as a result, I can't really find fault with it. We also meet Zod and again I have no gripes with it. It set up the story and had enough action. We all know this is just set up and the movie treats it as just that.

Les?


December 20, 2013

How I Saved Christmas!!!


No, no, no..... I am just kidding, I didn't save Christmas.

But..have you ever noticed just how many people have in TV and movies? And not just people either, everything from our pets to our toys have saved Christmas! It guess it sounds exciting, but the word "saved" has been so overused! I was at a Best Buy and saw a DVD about a dog saving Christmas, only to glance over and see another similar film!



The movies are often about Santa being out of comission, or an evil villain wanting to ruin the holiday. But there are exceptions too. Today I thought it would be fun to run down a list of all these movies and TV specials. Get comfortable, there's a few.





Ernest Saves Christmas



Let's start with the first that come to most people's minds. I am not sure if I have seen it. I don't remember watching it, but when I see the NC review some of it seems very familiar. Either way, for an Ernest movie it's harmless enough. Not a perennial favorite of mine. Ernest has to help when Santa loses his bag during his attempt to recruit the next Santa Claus. And by the way, while the Santa in this is nice it it not my favoite Santa.







Elmo Saves Christmas


I decided to finally watch this for this article. And the funny thing? It's really good! It's a different spin on the "Christmas Every Day" concept. Except rather than repeat the day over and over Elmo sees the future to experience what the world would be like if everyday were Christmas, where it loses all meaning and shuts the world down. So does Elmo actually "save" Christmas? Well, he does in the first ten minutes by aiding Santa. After that the show is about teaching Elmo an "important lesson". Ok it's still Sesame Street but points for a creative concept. It also has a "It a Wonderful Life" gag with Bert and Ernie which is really funny.


December 17, 2013

Top 5 WORST Direct to Video Christmas Specials (That I've Actually Seen)

I have already talked about two specials which I did not like. But they are not the worst I have ever seen. That award goes to the horrible Direct to Video specials out there.

The fact that something is direct to video is usually not a good sign. If it does not start out in theaters or on TV it probably means the show is so bad that no one wanted anything to do with it. Well, sometimes that isn't true. Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas was really good for example. Beauty and the Beast:The Enchanted Christmas was OK.Just to name two.



And other times it is REALLY true. We Wish you a Turtle Christmas anyone? How about A Christmas Story 2? I already talked about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys and Casper's Haunted Christmas. Today I wanted to look at five more direct to video or dvd Christmas specials which I watched,,,and just HATED! Are these the worst out  there? Maybe not, but I sure hate them.





#5.Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas


This isn't the worst thing the Looney Tunes have done, or even the worst of these kind of specials, but it just isn't that good either. The idea is to do A Christmas Carol with Daffy. Ok, that sounds fine. The problem? They disregard the characters we are familiar with and give them new identities. Now, before everyone goes nuts I am not saying they are THAT different. But why is Daffy head of a massive supermarket? Why is Porky his assistant? What in the world is Bugs here for? The special doesn't feel like Looney Tunes, you could rename the characters anything and it would be the same. As a result it just isn't interesting, it's just boring.





December 15, 2013

Top 5 BEST Sitcom Theme Songs

Today is my birthday and I thought I would treat myself to a little nostalgia. I love theme songs! Just listening to a classic TV show theme is enough to bring back such good memories. I have every compilation CD and my IPOD is full of them.  When done right, a really good theme becomes bigger than the show.





Awhile back I did a few articles on my favorite theme songs. But my inability to pick and choose made the lists have 11 choices! So today I want to talk about the cream of the crop. The five best Sitcom theme songs of them all (in my opinion anyway)!




#5.The Brady Bunch

Is there anyone in the world who doesn't know this theme? Even if you despise the show, you know the way ths goes. I know most would choose Gilligan's Island, but for me it will always be the story of the lovely lady that tops my list.




#4.Welcome Back, Kotter



I hated this show, but what can I say? The theme song is great! John Sebastian wrote a song which perfectly captures the series, and it was released as a full length song (as was all of these except the first). 70's had a lot of good themes like Taxi and Mary Tyler Moore but this is the one I think is the best.










#3.Happy Days/Laverne & Shirley



Is a tie cheating? Ah, who cares. What can you say? Both of these songs are simply fantastic. I have mixed feelings for these shows, but the theme songs are awesome! These shows were both so groundbreaking, and who doesn't love The Fonz?







#2.Cheers



I could be wrong but I think I knew the song before I became a fan of the show. That's how great this song is! It just fits the show perfectly, not just the lyrics but the whole piano melody. I think Les has said he still gets request for this, please correct me if I'm wrong, and I have no doubt about it. Family Ties was nice but dull and Cosby doesn't cound as a theme song. This is the ideal theme, perfect marriage of song and show.






#1.Friends

I know, I know. But this theme does everything right. It's a catchy song, it fits the mood of the show, and it even gives you an idea of what it's about. Well, sort of anyway. I love this song and it's not wonder it was such hit in the 90's.The 90's is when theme songs were starting to fall out of fashion, and so this was a refreshing way to show that good theme songs will always be loved.











The list of honorable mentions is way to long. But from the non-sitcom world we have the theme to The Greatest American Hero. I adore this song, heck Cinema Snob even uses it, and it is perfect. I leave you with it:










I did a BEST list today, so I guess I should do a WORST list. And I think I have a good idea for one! Look out for that in a couple days.

December 11, 2013

My Tribute to Paul Frees


It's possible you are saying, who? I can say that because for the longest time that would have been my response too. But over the years I have come to really admire and respect the work of the late, great Paul Frees. Actor, composer, songwriter, voice over artist and author. But what I admire him for is his voice over work. It's not coincidence this article is appearing now. He was a voice over artist who did dozens of characters, many of them appearing in the classic Rankin/Bass Christmas specials!


I would be here all day if I listed every role (seriously, his IMDB page is HUGE!) so I will instead list some of my favorites.




Frosty The Snowman/Frosty's Winter Wonderland


When people remember this classic they think of Jimmy Durante or Jackie Vernon who was Frosty. But Paul Frees played three characters in this one! He was the police man, the ticket agent, and Santa Claus. Not enough? In the god awful follow up Frees plays Jack Frost!






Mr.Magoo's Christmas Carol



Yeah I know this was not Rankin/Bass. This was not a favorite of mine but it is highly regarded by many. In this Paul Frees provided the voices for the stage director, Fezzwig, and one of the charity men.



December 10, 2013

Special TV-Muppet Letters to Santa


Remember a few months ago I did an article on John Denver and The Muppets:A Rocky Mountain Holiday? It's dreadfully slow and boring, but I went easy on it and said it was decent. Want to know why? BECAUSE THERE ARE WORST THINGS OUT THERE MY FRIENDS! I give you:





Ok, Ok. It's not the worst thing ever. But it has problems. This came out a few years ago on NBC, and watching it makes me understand why The Muppets don't appear on NBC anymore. Let's take a closer look :




December 8, 2013

Five Christmas TV Movies I Actually Like


Sigh. ABCFamily has done it again my friends! There new holiday movie this year features a successful woman played by Jennie Garth who returns home, and gets to experience her life if she had never left and instead married her high school sweetheart. What is it with ABCFamily that every movie has the moral of if you have a successful career you are  a loser? Oh, and the movie is called Holidaze. Wow, real original guys! I even used that once in a story!








Anyway, I decided rather than once again rant on the horrible TV Christmas movies out there, I would discuss five that I actually liked. Sure they're silly...even ridiculous in some cases, but I actually enjoy them.






A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie



This has gotten mixed opinions. People don't think its god awful, but they dont really think it was great either. Me? To me it's the Deep Space Nine of the Muppet franchise. It is a darker but decent, solid film but for some reason it just doesn't have that charm the other Muppet movies have so many stay away. I really like it! I like it more than The Muppets in some ways. I like the references to various other Christmas movies, especially It's a Wonderful Life. I also like the Muppet references within. For instance, when Kermit sees the world where he was never born he sees a stand for Doc Hopper's Frog Legs. A very clever reference to the original Muppet Movie. I guess I also like this because unlike crap like Bah Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas it takes place in and even respects the established Muppet canon. Heck the setting is the classic studio where The Muppet Show was done! How could you not love that??? Does it have flaws? Sure. For instance Piggy walks off the show just to be coaxed back ten minutes later, what was the point? But flaws and all I still enjoy it.




December 5, 2013

Five "WTF??" Christmas Movie Moments


I love Christmas movies! They are so warm and cheerful, and just put you in the best spirits this time of year. However, even the really good movies will occasionally have a scene which seems to come out of nowhere and either be really strange or just make no sense.

Here are five odd scenes from otherwise fine movies that make me say "WTF???"





Abraham Song (Holiday Inn)


This may be cheating, but it is considered a Christmas classic. For some reason. I mean, yeah Bing Crosby sings White Christmas in it but this is hardly a great Christmas movie. But the most infamous part is the President's Day segment, where Bing Crosby sings a song about how Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves. What makes this odd? HE DOES IT IN BLACK FACE! We can argue all day whether ot no this is offensive or not, the bottom line is that the scene is just disturbing. Watching these actors sing what is admirredly a nice somg in black face is just....WTF? I know it was 1942, but why? The scene is often cut from TV airings. I tried to watch it for this, but it is so awkward I just can't.







Squirrel Attacks Family (Christmas Vacaction)



I love this movie, it's a real guilty pleasure. The jokes work and some still make me laugh. But when the climax approaches, the movie tries to one up itself by making every joke bigger and broader. This brings us to the squirrel scene. This scene is simply not funny. It happens after Clark drags a tree inside the house. Why isn't it funny? I finally realized the reason. For almost the whole movie the only person at any risk of getting hurt is Clark. That ends in this scene. Ok, maybe I am taking this a little to seriously, but really what if his kids had gotten bitten or something? Guess it's no surprise the next shot after the squirrel escapes is the family packed up to leave. It's just  not funny. Bad scene in an otherwise great movie.


December 3, 2013

Let's Talk About Star Trek:Into Darkness




Rating:To Boldly Go...Where we Went Thirty Years Ago!!!!

I was against the reboot of the Star Trek franchise. I admit it, I was appalled at the very notion. Well, aspects of it anyway. I mean I can live with different actors playing the characters, but to wipe out 40 years of history? I was not happy with that! What was worst? Getting this guy to direct:


I goddamn hate JJ Abrams. I mean yeah he has a good reputation, but I am not a fan. I just don't like the stuff he does. His style tends to be confusing not to mention loud and noisy, and Star Trek is not Star Wars. There is more going on than a cosmic odyssey with space battles.  However, I went to see the 2009 Star Trek anyway. And it was...loud and confusing. It wasn't all bad, but there were things I didn't like, such as that awful time travel plot. But that is what the 2009 Star Trek felt like. They had turned Star Trek into Star Wars. I had so many problems with this film I did a whole article on it.


So when the sequel came out this past spring I had zero interest in it. Then the word started coming out about the villain (big shock!) and the questionable ending. The hype made me curious. So curious that I went to check it out. I am happy to say that many of the problems I did have with the 2009 Star Trek were not found in Into Darkness. This really did feel like a Star Trek movie, much to my surprise.

(What? This isn't THAT Kind of movie?)


Scotty went from being an overbearing jerk to a character I really liked. I don't know why, maybe because he had something important to do in the story. The Spock/Uhura romance bullcrap didn't bother me as much. Even the Enterprise felt like, well, The Enterprise. I loved Khan (yeah no Ricardo Montalban but whatever) and what Spock does with the torpedos to save the say was an awesome moment!


December 1, 2013

Special TV-Elmo's Christmas Countdown


It's that time of year again. CHRISTMAS! I got a few special blogs coming in the next few weeks, starting with this special. What a cute idea...that sucked hard! Let's talk a look at one of the worst things I have ever seen. I give you:






I was looking forward to this when it first came on. It sounded really good! Then I watched it. Let's take a closer look:


Plot-Stiller the Elf narrates this story concerning Elmo. Stiller gives Oscar the job of counting down Christmas with the Christmas Countdowner. The Counter-Downer contains ten boxes (numbered  1-10) that help count down the last 10 days to Christmas. Without it, Christmas can't happen.After Oscar the Grouch throws away the offical Christmas Countdowner, it's up to Elmo to find all ten numbers and put it back together in time. Every time he finds a number it segues into another music number and/or sketch. In the end they find all ten, until Cookie Monster eats the Countdowner! Will Christmas be lost forever?